If you are already working as a registered nurse (RN) and looking to earn your bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), an RN to BSN program could be the ideal choice to help you expand your career prospects. Upon completing an RN to BSN program, you can develop the foundational skills needed to pursue advanced specialization or nursing leadership roles in the field.
Of course, before you get started with an RN to BSN program, you must complete all RN to BSN admission requirements. By having a better idea of what to expect from the process, you'll be better prepared to take this next exciting step in your nursing career.
RN to BSN Admissions
When applying for an RN to BSN program, it's crucial to take your time and review the specific application requirements for each school/program. Each college determines its own admissions requirements—so the requirements for one program may not be the same as those in another school.
This is especially true when it comes to application deadlines. Make sure you are aware of the exact deadline for applications for the program you are most interested in. Typically, applications are not accepted after these deadlines, and you will need to submit an application for the following semester if you miss the deadline for the current one.
Keep in mind, too, that all application materials must be submitted by the deadline. You cannot submit your application on the day of the deadline and then submit your supporting documentation (such as transcripts and letters of recommendation) after the deadline. With that said, it's always wise to get your application and all supporting materials submitted as early as possible rather than waiting until the last minute.
How to Apply
The application process for an RN to BSN program can also vary by school. In today’s age, most colleges and universities accept online applications, offering a high level of convenience to potential students. Many times these programs also offer an option to upload supporting documents online, saving potential students the hassle of making physical copies and sending them in person.
However, it is worth noting that not all programs accept online applications, so researching the unique requirements for each program and planning accordingly is important. If you application materials are required to be sent by mail, generally, they must be postmarked by the day of the application deadline.
General Requirements for RN to BSN Programs
While each RN to BSN program has its own unique admissions requirements, there are some general requirements for these programs that most schools follow. This includes requirements to carry a minimum of a state-approved diploma or associate degree, pass the NCLEX-RN, and become a licensed registered nurse.
Associate Degree in Nursing or a State-Approved Diploma
If you're applying for an RN to BSN program, you need to be a current RN. This means you have completed a minimum of an associate degree program in nursing or another state-approved nursing diploma or program. Be sure to have proof of this to submit along with your application.
Passing the NCLEX in Your State
To work as an RN, you also need to have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). This computer-based test assesses the test-taker's knowledge of foundational nursing concepts to verify they meet or exceed strict standards for such topics as effective and safe care, health promotion and maintenance, integrity, and more.
If you have already taken and passed the NCLEX-RN, you need to submit your scores or proof of passing along with your RN to BSN program application.
Becoming a Licensed Registered Nurse
In order to be considered for admission to an RN to BSN program, you must be formally licensed as a registered nurse in your respective state. This process involves following all the licensure requirements particular to your state, which typically means submitting copies of your nursing program transcripts and/or diploma, as well as a copy of your passing NCLEX-RN scores.
Requirements for Applying to RN to BSN Programs
Once you have met all the criteria for working as a licensed RN, it's time to explore the requirements for applying to an RN to BSN program. Remember that these can differ from one program to the next, though the general requirements tend to be similar.
Some RN to BSN programs requires you to submit a resume. This is most common for programs where a certain amount of previous experience working in the nursing field is required for admission. If this is the case, then make sure to include a copy of your resume that details your nursing experience, specific job duties, time employed, and similar details.
Oftentimes, resumes are only required for applicants whose cumulative GPA in a prior nursing program is less than 2.0. In this scenario, proof of nursing experience may be preferred. A personal statement or RN to BSN admission essay might also be required in these instances, though this is not always the case.
Submit Transcript from Nursing School
Additionally, completion of an associate degree program or state-approved nursing program is required in order to begin enrollment in an RN to BSN program, so be sure to include any transcripts from your past schools at your time of application. Most programs want official transcripts from all colleges and universities that you have previously attended.
If you started an RN to BSN program in the past that you didn't complete, you may still be eligible for transfer credit to your new program. In this case, include the transcript from your previous program and schedule an appointment with a program advisor. This way, you can determine which of your past credit hours may transfer.
Submit Current RN License
Applicants to an RN to BSN program must retain an active, unencumbered registered nurse license to begin RN to BSN classes. As part of your application, then, you should expect to submit credentials proving that your RN license is current with no restrictions.
Pass the NCLEX
All applicants to an RN to BSN program must have passed the NCLEX-RN exam as well. Be prepared, if necessary, to submit proof of this along with your application.
In addition to this formal documentation, it is also possible that you will need to pay an application fee for each RN to BSN program that you apply to. These fees can vary, with some programs offering free applications and others charging $100 or more to apply. If you're having trouble affording an application fee for an RN to BSN program, consider reaching out to the school directly to see if they offer any kind of assistance programs.
Tips for RN to BSN Admissions Process
As you prepare to apply for an RN to BSN program, there are some basic tips and strategies that could help make the entire process smoother for you.
First and foremost, apply to an RN to BSN program as early as possible. The sooner you get your application and materials submitted, the sooner you'll find out your acceptance decision. If admitted to the program, this will also give you more time to plan your enrollment (class schedule, modality, part- or full-time status, and more). Applying early gives you more time to focus on other aspects of preparing for nursing school, too, such as exploring financial aid options.
Additionally, applying early will save you time and energy. In the case you don't get into the program of your choice, applying early allows you additional time to submit applications to alternate schools rather than having to wait until the next semester or enrollment period.
Order Transcripts Well Before the Deadline
If you need to submit transcripts from a previous school as part of your application, make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to do this. In some instances, transcripts may take some time to dig up, especially if they are not available in a digital format—in which case, your transcript will need to be located, scanned, digitized, and sent to you. Therefore, you don't want to wait until a few days before your program's application deadline to begin requesting these.
Keep in mind that some programs may also request official transcripts, meaning they must be presented in paper format with an official seal from your previous school. If this is the case, you will need even more extra time to ensure you have all your application materials ready before the submission deadline.
Before you submit your application to an RN to BSN program, it's always a good idea to take a minute and go over the requirements one more time. Make a checklist to confirm that you've followed all the instructions for applying, including:
- Submitting any required transcripts in the correct format (digital, physical copy, official copy, etc.)
- Submitting a resume and letter of intent (or admission essay), if required
- Submitting proof of current RN license and passing NCLEX-RN scores
- Submitting transcripts from any previous RN to BSN program from which you are seeking transfer credits
- Paying any required application fees
- Meeting all application deadlines
If you have any questions throughout the application process, be sure to contact an admissions advisor from the school itself. This can be a wonderful way to get questions answered or seek general guidance from someone who has plenty of experience handling college applications and working with prospective students.
Ready to Get Started?
From submitting all the appropriate materials to meeting each school's specific application deadlines, there's quite a bit to consider when it comes to applying for and enrolling in an RN to BSN program.
At Lindenwood University Online, we strive to make the RN to BSN admission process as straightforward as possible, with admission requirements listed clearly on our program page. Once you're accepted into this fully online RN to BSN program, you can complete it in as little as 12 months while enjoying an affordable, high-quality academic experience. Learn more about our bachelor's in nursing (RN to BSN) program today or request information to get in touch with admissions to answer your questions.